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Invest In The Clients that Value You

It's easy to say yes, but often we need to say no. I believe most of us whether you are a photographer, designer, stylist, whatever... say yes way too often.



Just Because They Are Paying You, Doesn't Mean They Are Contributing To Your Business

I always used to think that every job is a contribution, no matter what size or money I can make from it. We need to remind ourselves that we are often dealing with business people and often smart ones. Don't give anyone the benefit of the doubt that that they aren't trying to juice the best deal out of you. They won't care if it's not profitable for you, they only care that it's more profitable for them. So clients matter. Bad clients will try to rip you off and get everything almost for nothing. Good clients will still do that but they value you and see why its important to keep you in business. While trying to get the best prices they may also offer you something else on the other hand. For example, a longer business relationship, or an opportunity to shoot something that can attract other clients.


Nowadays, I say "no" way more often than I say "yes". It's not because I am too good for the money or the client doesn't understand my art, but simply because the client is wasting the most valuable asset of my company. Time.


I still shoot food for advertising now and then. Once in a while some arrogant client will come to me with a pathetic budget claiming that they had a lot of options but they like my style, so they came to me. Apart from the pathetic terms usually these people come up with (ex. $200 for 20 photos and perpetual licensing and unlimited 3rd party perpetual licensing), these clients usually ask of you to shoot things that are just not visually appealing. Things that lack sincerity, lack skills, lack quality. Of course this is of no surprise. Cause, if you value your product and think highly of what you sell, why would you care so little to how it's being photographed or marketed? Paying someone McJob fees is a care less attitude. Why? Because how do you expect the people getting paid peanuts to care about what they do when you don't value the work being done?


Just say No. Invest the time in something that contributes to brand building or skill building. I rather make $500 less in my business shooting for a care less client and spend $200 and the time buying a tutorial to learn something useful. On the other hand, I don't mind making next to nothing shooting for some guys with a wonderful idea that will change the world. Of course, don't just shoot. Build a relationship.


Don't Waste Time On Clients That Think They Can Do What You Do But Just Don't Find It Worthwhile


You gotta ask yourself, why are you working for this guy? If he/she can do it, why aren't they doing it themselves. I get this all the time. "oh I can do that, just a simple light and camera. How hard can that be?" or often I hear someone senior talking to a marketing personnel, "doesn't that young guy in data entry have a DSLR? why are we spending this money to get this done." First of all if you are asking these questions in front of a vendor that is shooting for you on site. There are more issues in your company than you think.


These clients don't understand what you do. Better yet, they don't know how to properly use the work you've created for them and so they don't see value. Honestly, if some young kid who worked data entry got a 80D for Christmas can do what I do, I wouldn't bother spending all that time marketing myself (of course if that young kid used to be a advertising photographer, that is a different story). Most of the time, clients that devalue your work are those that don't know how to properly market themselves, or a business that struggle and find marketing to be a burden. What they don't know is that marketing is the key to their salvation.


While you can pull a Tony Robbins on them, and try to educate them. I won't bother. Cause most of the time why most small businesses fail is due to arrogance and stubbornness. Often these business owners devalue the opinions of their photographers, designers, or stylists, but what they don't know is that these people have had more contact with similar failing or successful businesses than they have. It may be a surprise to them, but what you have seen may be more knowledgeable to some of these business owners. If you had already made a commitment to such a client, just finish what was agreed and leave. Next time if they come back just jack up the price by about 3-4x and I assure you they'll stop calling. Don't waste time on these clients, invest in those that appreciate your work and will take your work and make it into mass campaigns and signages where many people can see your work (thus more business).


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